Copeland recused from closed meeting on settlement

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By Randy Patrick

Councilwoman Kecia Copeland walked out with two lawyers during a two-and-a-half-hour closed-door meeting of the Bardstown City Council Tuesday and remained in the lobby with them until officials reopened the session.

One of the attorneys, Keith Sparks, would not say whether or not Copeland is suing the city.

“I cannot confirm or deny anything,” he said.

While the other council members discussed what Mayor Dick Heaton had said before the executive session was “an offer of a settlement,” Copeland talked outside with Sparks and his associate, Mike Niemitz.

Several times during the session, City Attorney Tim Butler emerged from the council chambers and walked outside into the rain with Sparks and returned.

When the council came back into open session, Heaton told the city clerk, “Let the record show that in the executive session, we took no executive action, and we will not be taking any action this evening on the matter that was discussed.”

Asked by The Standard if the matter would be discussed in another closed session during the next council meeting, Butler said he didn’t know.

He said Wednesday he couldn’t discuss the matter at all.

Copeland was at the center of a controversy that resulted in the City Council removing Mayor John Royalty from office for misconduct and replacing him with Heaton, who was then a councilman and former mayor.

The misconduct Royalty was accused of includes using city personnel and equipment to access Copeland’s private email, disseminating those emails to a third party and thereby violating her privacy rights and ordering a city employee to lie to gain access to council members’ city-owned iPads, on which some of them had their personal email accounts synced.

Royalty is appealing his removal in circuit court, and the city is countersuing the former mayor.